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Kern Jobless-Rate Decline Continues
  March 2, 2006
CONTACT:
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, mstepanovich@csub.edu,
or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, jloveless@csub.edu

Kern County's unemployment rate continued to decline in the fourth quarter 2005, bringing the rate to levels not seen in decades, according to the latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal, published by California State University, Bakersfield.

The county's jobless rate registered 7.3 percent for the quarter ending Dec. 31, 2005, down from the 7.6 percent in the third quarter 2005, and the third quarter in a row that the county's jobless rate is in single digits.

"What we're experiencing is historic," said Abbas Grammy, professor of applied economics at CSUB and publisher of the Kern Economic Journal. "This is an important trend. We haven't seen rates like this in a long, long time. The county rate is only a couple points higher than the state unemployment rate, and Bakersfield's is 5.5 percent, only a few tenths higher than the state average."

To be sure, some of the county's historically high jobless areas still have high unemployment rates, such as Delano (21.4 percent), Arvin (22.1 percent) and McFarland (17 percent). But these areas are more than offset by other areas that are economically robust, such as Ridgecrest (4.4 percent), Tehachapi (5.2 percent), Lebec (3.4 percent) and Kernville (3.1 percent).

The jobless rate also was reflected in the Business Outlook Index, which edged up a point to 140, marking the fifth consecutive quarter that the index has increased, and surpassing the high-water mark set in the third quarter 2004. The index reflects that businesses are generally bullish on Kern County's economy.

Meanwhile, the Bakersfield Consumer Sentiment Index recovered from its third-quarter drop that CSUB economist Mark Evans attributed to the effects of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. The index climbed nine points to 119.

The latest issue of the Kern Economic Journal also includes a profile of Bart Hill, president and CEO of San Joaquin Bank; a report on "Information Security: a new managerial concern," by Hossein Bidgoli, CSUB professor of management information systems; and a look at "Transportation and the Quality of Life in Kern County," by Ronald E. Brummett of the Kern Council of Governments.

The Kern Economic Journal is a quarterly publication focusing on local economic trends and developments. The journal provides the community with economic information produced by the CSUB Economics Department. "What we provide is local economic news," Grammy said. "This helps local business people make better decisions. We study local economic trends to determine how the local economy is progressing."

A subscription to the Kern Economic Journal costs $60 per year for the print issue, $80 for the electronic issue, including archives; and $100 per year for both hard copy and online, including access to the archives. For a free initial copy or more information about any of the studies published in the journal, please call (661) 654-2466, or e-mail Grammy at agrammy@csub.edu. You can also visit the journal's website at www.csub.edu/kej.

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